A couple from Cadenheads, a couple from Whisky Broker and one from history. I’m still in love with Springbank, but none of these beat SMWS’s recent 27.109, Guns on the grouse moor, a whisky I fell so head over heels with – such elegant, dark filth, and it got better and better the longer the bottle was open (and that sulphur went away). And a real drinker too… it’s definitely upgraded to an A⊕+.
Anyway, more Springbank!
Springbank 12 year old, Port Cask, 58.3% A⊕
Originally reviewed as a bottle sample in the Cadenheads shop in London, I've had the finished product a while now. Time for a taste in the comfort of my own home.
Nose - The initial reaction is still the same - this is so light. Light port, floral and spirity. But I grew to really love the Springbank Green, which was so light… but so correct. My second reaction is also the same - the heavy Springbank spirit shows through. Engines, beef stew, toffee, oak chunks, hand soap, cigar tobacco and metal ruler. The more you nose it, the more authoritative it gets. Water sweetens it up, but brings some bitterness.
Body - There's the port, and there's the Springbank. Icing sugar, sugar work, oily, slightly numbing, a gap….. then the Springbank sulphur that keeps you coming back. Cereal plays a single duff note, but it's very good.
Finish - Lemon zest, orange juice and sherbet. Lots of bitter wood dominates the ending, with citrus left behind.
What's not good about it - Requires a lot of digging. Not really something you can talk over while drinking!
What's good about it - Seriously delicious though, very interesting and ultimately, very Springbank: balance, balls and integrity.
Cadenheads Longrow, 12 years old, Sherry Cask, 53.1% A-
A Cadenheads independently labelled whisky originating from Springbank distillery is always a cause for celebration!
Body - Ripe, fruity, heavily sherried with a sweet sulphur top note backed by dry wine. "Good".
Finish - Sweet fruit, dark sugar, spiked with cabbage notes of over-played sulphur. Incredibly tannic at the end. This was a lot worse with the sulphur, I must say, on opening. Time has done it a world of favours, but it's still there, and the dryness is unbalanced.
What's not good about it - Sulphur. And pretty clumsy.
What's good about it - Big, deep and winey, lovely sweetness and very rich. Spicy tannins balance it out a bit, loads of floral sherry and top deodorant notes. Pretty massive.
Springbank CV, bottled 1997, 46% A⊕
The classic NAS CV from Springbank, bottled nearly 20 years ago. An auction favourite.
Nose - You can see what the fuss was about immediately when you nose this, it's properly complicated and almost unsettling, even though it clearly has some youth. At first, it's deep, a little funky with sulphur and Springbank engine goodness. Then sweet and clear with liquorice torpedoes and cut plum. Very inviting.
Body - Dark, cut black cherry, more liquorice, some tobacco and planed pine planks. A little fizzing spice. Mango. But now oddly closed - boiled sweets and cigarette packets.
Finish - Very long, orange juice and pipe tobacco. Quite a lot of bitterness, but also brighter fruit and toffee notes right through to the end. Some lingering funk.
What's not good about it - A little closed, a little young? But who cares.
What's good about it - A big whisky for a NAS and tons of beautiful Springbank character - sulphur funk, fruit, toffee and lots of fun.
Whisky Broker Springbank 15 years old, Rum barrel, 52.8% A⊕
Nose - Zesty lime, cut green apple, musky deodorant (men's, bright, sweet and spicy), blonde wood. When I first opened the bottle this was pretty workaday but as ever, a couple of months later it's showing its true potential. Bright, refreshing, complex and clean. Lovely stuff.
Body - Deep toffee, spicy and with good Springbank sulphur, loads of oil and character and malted barley. Tobacco and old shelves. Goodness me this is good.
Finish - Long, perhaps a little bitter, with chilli and coffee tones. Very long actually, engines and musky toffee right at the end, and then even, a little winey with Putty Rubber (took a while to dredge that out of the memory banks!).
What's not good about it - Perhaps young, but also very closed on opening the bottle.
What's good about it - The more whisky I drink (the more jaded I become) the more I appreciate Springbank, the more I appreciate 15/16 year old whisky. This pretty much ticks that lot. While (despite the rum cask) this is reassuringly "ordinary", it's almost perfect. That bitter edge is the only fly.
Whisky Broker Springbank 18 years old, Sherry Hogshead, 56.3% A+
Nose - Sweet, balanced, winey, sherried Springbank. Window putty and candle wax, old polished bookshelves and magazines. Big, elegant, less restrained but with less complexity. I do find Springbank becomes more elegant but less compelling between 15 and 18 (personally). With water, almost SMWS intensity - boiled sweets and waxy wine. Lovely.
Body - A little spice, sweet with sulphur sherry, lots of red wine, quite a lot of heat. Red fruit and tobacco. Much woodier with water, more classical.
Finish - Long and tasty. A lasting tobacco bitterness and again a little one dimensional.
What's not good about it - Lacks complexity.
What's good about it - But does the sherried Springer thing very well. When I first opened both these bottles the 18 was absolutely my favourite and I wondered when I'd get round to finishing the 15, but the tables have turned completely. Both of these whiskies are excellent, quite different, both very Springbank. It’s taken me a long time to review these last two because the 18 is so “great” but I’m bored of it, and the 15 is so “boring” but I love it. I think I finally nailed it…